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Cognitive dissonance

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Identify a situation in which an individual made a decision to engage in behavior that violated his or her values, beliefs, attitudes, and morals. Can you explain how the individual could have used cognitive dissonance theory to rationalize his behavior.

The scenario is below:

It had been 3 years to the day and as I stood on the beach, with the warm salty breeze in my face, I wondered if I would ever be able to come to terms with the truth. I, John Thompson Smith--son, father, brother--had taken the life of Howard Ty Withering--son, father, brother. Of course I didn't know the man's name on that fateful day when Howie, that is what his friends called him, decided to walk into Smith's Electronics on 7th street, pull a gun, and demand that I hand him all of the money in the register. My wife was late taking the children to school that morning and they had just walked out of the back to leave. As Howie walked into the store he pointed the gun at the closest person to him, my daughter Felicity. As I think back now, standing here in the wet sand, Howie was sweating profusely and shaking from head to toe. I can remember thinking that something was wrong with this person, not only because he was holding a gun demanding money, but because he was stammering and sputtering and was barely able to form words. I found out later that he and his children had not eaten in days, his son had a terrible cough, and Howie was a construction foreman who hadn't worked in months. Howie was not a bad man, an evil man, a terrible man--he was just a man who had come to the end of himself and found desperation. It is spiteful that childhood fills us with visions of yellow-brick roads and rainbows, and then adulthood holds Kansas and the pot of gold perpetually out of reach.

It can be done as paragraphs or bullets.

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Solution Preview

According to theorist Leon Festinger's cognitive dissonance theory we all have a strong need to perceive a consistency between our thoughts words and actions. Generally speaking individuals are uncomfortable when their actions go completely against what we believe in. When they do something they should not have done they search for a legitimate explanation to make their discomfort go away.

It is evident from the above scenario that John feels a tremendous amount of guilt for having taken Howie's life. Clearly if this situation stll haunts him three years later because he still has not accepted what he did. Killing ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides an explanation of how the individual described below in the paragraph could have used the cognitive dissonance theory to rationalize his behavior